Monthly Archives: April 2008

April Golden Transfer

Golden TransferThis month’s Golden Transfer goes to my good friend Char (yes, the same Char who hipped me to the life-size pictures at Greenfest and to the height-adjustable heels) and her husband John, an Eastside couple committed to reducing their car use.

In 2006, Char and John moved from two vehicles to one. They didn’t need cars to commute, and they usually spent their weekends together, so it made sense to share. Even when the car was available, Char would ride the bus “just because”–to head downtown or even to visit friends. (She’s visited me on the bus more than once.)

Earlier this month, Char and John decided to take their car-lite lifestyle to the next level. They turned in the vehicle they were leasing and committed to living without a car for eight weeks. At the end of the trial period, they will decide whether to remain car-free indefinitely or purchase a used car with cash. (Guess which outcome I’m hoping for?)

Char and John, heading downtown on the 545

Car-free life on the Eastside has its challenges (to make errands easier, they’re considering using a grocery delivery service and buying a bike), but, like car-free life anywhere, it also has many benefits. Char gives these reasons for dumping her two tons of extra baggage:

For me it’s a combination of motivators:
1. Minimize my carbon footprint
2. Decrease demand for fossil fuels
3. Save more money and simplify my lifestyle
4. Increase my overall physical fitness level
5. Enjoy the social benefits of riding public transportation

I couldn’t have said it better.

Thank you, Char and John, for your efforts. Even if you decide to return to car ownership, you will do so with a clearer understanding of your choice, and (I hope) a few lasting behavior changes. In the meantime, I’ll see you on the bus!

A shoe breakthrough for bus chicks

I do OK with cute and comfortable footwear (though not as well as my girl Miranda) until it’s time to really dress. I’m not big on “wear a pair, carry a pair,” so on occasions that call for high heels, I usually just choose the pair that goes best with the outfit and resign myself to a few hours of suffering.* Fortunately for me, those occasions only occur a few times a month. For those of you who must wear dressy shoes on a regular basis, some hopeful news:

Over the weekend, my friend Char (not coincidentally, a newly minted bus chick) hipped me to these (and other) height-adjustable heels:

A height-adjustable heel


I ain’t one to hawk products, and believe me, I’m not trying to sell you these. (I’m not really feeling the styles or the Salon Shoes prices.) I do appreciate the concept, though. Check the video.

* I have also been known to call a cab.

Eastbound 27, 3:30 PM

A 60-ish man is holding court in the front of the bus, talking to many of the other passengers, most of whom he seems to know. At Broadway, a handsome twentysomething with impeccable waves gets on. As Twentysomething passes, the older man stops mid-sentence, and in a tone bordering on reverent, says,

“Son, you could float a cruise ship on that head.”

Caption it!

You guys did such a great job with the rooster photo that I’ve decided to let you have a go at this one, taken last week at 5th & Jackson:

Which bus goes to the Summit?

Best caption (as judged by me–with perhaps a bit of input by Bus Nerd) wins, well…nothing. We’ll all think you’re really cool and clever, though.

And they don’t even give grades

Another addition to the glossary:

BDP, n: Bus driver’s pet or bus driver’s pest, depending on the circumstances. A person who sits in the front of the bus, in the seat nearest the driver, and engages the driver in conversation for the duration of the ride. BDPs tend to be regular riders and commonly offer advice and assistance (solicited and otherwise) to their fellow passengers.

Speaking of BDP, I’m in need of a KRS-One/D-Nice fix. Might be time to add some music to the Schmipod

Earth Day is still a great day to be a bus chick

One of the many reasons I ride:

A view of Tahoma, from a 39 stop in Seward Park

Still more reasons, from the American Public Transportation Association:

An individual switching to public transit can reduce his or her daily carbon emissions by 20 pounds; that’s more than 4,800 pounds in a year, a figure that is more than the combined carbon emissions reduction that comes from weathering your home and using energy efficient appliances and environmentally-friendly light bulbs.

If just one commuter of a household switches from driving to using public transportation, the household’s carbon footprint can be reduced by 10 percent. If a household gives up its second car altogether, a household can reduce carbon emissions up to 30 percent.

In case the future of the planet isn’t enough incentive: This Earth Day, lucky transit riders in DC were given free chocolate as a reward for their efforts. (Hey, Metro: Any chance this might happen in Seattle next year?)

If you prefer a little peace on earth with your carbon reduction (and chocolate!), check out this CSM editorial (thanks for the link, Pam!) about how the bus brings out our gentler side. I can’t say that all the bus rides I’ve taken have been so kind and gentle, but I definitely agree with the premise.

Happy Earth Day, everyone!

And one more…

Elliott Bay Water Taxi opening day festivities
What: A “community celebration” of Seattle’s only floating bus
When: Sunday, April 27, 12 PM – 2 PM
Where: Seacrest Park
How much: The party and rides are free on the 27th. (The Water Taxi usually costs $3 but is free with a bus pass of any denomination.)

As most of you know, I am a huge fan of the Water Taxi, both for selfish reasons (my dad lives across the street from Seacrest) and because it makes people feel good about leaving their cars at home. Why drive when the alternative is a lovely cruise across the bay?

See you at the party!

Upcoming events for transit types

Earth Day Expo
What: “…King County’s fifth-annual Earth Day Expo… to “learn easy ways to recycle, green-up your ride, volunteer for Earth-friendly activities, reduce your carbon footprint and make your home and garden more environmentally sound”
When: Tuesday, April 22, 10 AM- 2 PM
Where: Westlake Plaza
How much: Free!

Green My Ride
What: An “alternative transportation fair” to “learn how you can take the next step toward a greener ride”
When: Saturday, April 26, 9:30 AM – 3:30 PM
Where: Phinney Neighborhood Center
I’m going to give a short presentation about bus culture at noon and then spend the afternoon learning from all the alt-transpo experts who’ll be there.
How much: Free!

Sustainable West Seattle
What: A festival (a la Sustainable Ballard) “to educate and advocate for urban sustainability in our local community”
When: Sunday, May 4, 10 AM – 3:00 PM
Where: Wells Fargo lot, Alaska Junction
How much: Free!
I grew up in West Seattle, so I’ll be there, reppin’ one of my original buses, the 55. (I’ll also be participating on a panel about car-free living.) I might even drag my dad and baby brother, both West Seattle types, out for the occasion.

Towards Carfree Cities VIII
What: A conference that “brings together people from around the world who work to promote practical alternatives to car dependence”
When: June 16-20, 2008
Where: Portland. Oregon (You can take the train!)
How much: Check the registration rates on the conference site.
Stay tuned for more about this one.

New sign designs!

Metro is testing prototypes of a new bus-sign design. They’re on display in front of King Street Center for about another week. (After that they’ll be at Third & Union, at the Benaroya stop.) I went to check them out yesterday.

Here’s the prototype for a sign at a major stop:

Major stop prototype
Major stop prototype

And here’s the prototype for the smaller stops:

Minor stop prototype

Note that the numbers are bigger and now read left-to-right instead of top-to-bottom. They are also removable, which makes the signs easier and cheaper to update.

As you can see, the route destination is now listed under the route number. This is a helpful addition, but I wonder how Metro will handle routes that don’t always terminate at the same location. Some examples: 48 Rainier Beach vs. 48 Columbia City; 3 Madrona vs. 3 First Hill. Will the route be listed twice? Will there be two destinations listed under the number? (I’m not even going to touch those routes that change numbers halfway through the ride.) Then again, I suppose that’s not as much an issue with the signs as with the route numbering, and that’s a post for another time.

Another cool (but possibly problematic) addition: The stop numbers are now printed on the signs. This is a good thing for those of us who’ve tried calling Metro’s automated service to find out when a route is scheduled to be at a particular stop, only to be prompted to enter a stop number, which is not available anywhere at the stop. Unfortunately, the stop numbers used by this system are not the same as the stop IDs used by Tracker and MyBus. I predict a whole lot of confused riders. But again, this is a problem that’s bigger than the signs.

I love (without reservations) the rail, airport, and ferry icons and the addition of Metro’s rider information number and Web address. Adding these is a good step toward making the system more usable and predictable, and making it easier for newbies to find their way around.

I must close with the disclaimer sign that was posted next to the prototypes.


This is only a test, folks, so don’t start expecting to see these at your local stop anytime soon.

Of course, the testing phase is a good time for feedback. You like?